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Practicing Wall

Matt Welch

Music Theory Bragger
Nov 11, 2019
Hey everyone. First time posting here, but thought I might as well float this off into the universe.

Sat down to practice this morning and have been going through the etudes, particularly focussing on my alternate picking. About 45 mins into running through them all, I start to begin feeling like I'm not making any progress or that I've hit this "wall" in terms of whether or not I'm actually making any progress by continuing.

Was just wondering if anyone can relate to this and offer their suggestions/insights and maybe what's worked for them. I try to do things to recharge my focus like practicing in 20 min chunks, with 10 minute breaks where I do something relaxing like read or just lay on my bed haha. I do this to try and re-centre and regain my focus.

I guess the main thing I am also wondering is how long does one typically have to stick with a particular exercise/lick/riff until they've mastered it and can just execute it without too much maintenance. I feel like I keep coming back to these etudes over the years and am always back at square one. I know consistency is a big thing here, but am just wondering what everyone thinks in terms of, is sitting down and working on 2-3 exercises for like 4/5 hours even beneficial? Or is doing that pointless as you'll be beyond the point on making any returns on your investment in time, I guess the analogy I think of is overtraining muscles in a gym.

Anyway, hope that all makes sense haha! looking forward to hearing everyones thoughts and suggestions.

Keep rocking!

Alicia Willis

  • Nov 11, 2019
    Lexington, South Carolina
    I personally feel like a good focused practice of 20-30 minutes is more beneficial than 4/5 hours. You’re totally right in taking breaks as after about 20 minutes most humans start to loose focus (I know I sure as hell do) and then it begins to feel like a chore, I never want it to feel like a chore.
    as far as not seeing any progress, I’m sure thats not true. I feel like we all get to a plateau point where we don’t realize the small progress we are making, this is where I love recording myself to see progress when I feel like that. Just pop the phone up record a take then practice for the week and record another the next week and compare. You might be surprised! Even though in the moment you don’t see the improvement, the difference you’re likely to hear and/or see in small improvements from watching a video from just a week back will be there and offer the motivation you need


    Local Dive Bar Favorite
  • Nov 16, 2019
    The Netherlands
    For me 5 minutes per practice section works the best so that I don't get all worked up with the exercise. And you'll get more done in a shorter time. You don't need hours of practice. Try to combine it with freeplay/improv. Take what you learn from the lessons and try to play it over a backingtrack. Without playing it's useless to practice.

    As for improvement, try playing something you used to play but couldn't get completely right. You'll notice you got better.
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    Reactions: Alicia Willis


    One Stringer
  • Feb 8, 2023
    Houston, Texas
    @Matt Welch
    I know the feeling all to well. I will give you a couple of tips to try.

    1. Use a metronome to keep time.
    2. Try a different pick shape and thickness.
    3. Keep each stoke of the pick in time with the fingers to be clean and crisp.
    4. Maybe there is to much pick on the string.
    5. Imagine fingers bellow pick on down and above pick on upstroke.

    The last one is not that extreme but gives you an idea. Mute the strings on the neck and just watch your pick moving from string to string. Pay attention to down stroke from top string to next string.

    Now work out the most economical way to accomplish it. On YouTube look up Troy Grady Michael Angelo Batio.

    You do not need to watch the entire video but pay attention to the end after he films his playing. Absolutely beautiful hand technique for double picking. I am personally practicing this now as well. I am going to try my best to match his picking style.

    Don't try to get it in one day. Take your time, keep it clean, and speed will come.

    Best of luck to you.